Endorsed by several fabricators, using certain types of grinders can save you time and money. With many options to choose from, it’s easy to pick out the one that best suits your needs. Most of the time, the decision boils down to calculating cost-to-performance ratios. Grinding with the wrong tool can cost your company a lot of money, which is not what you want. To prevent that from happening, develop a plan for how you will use different types of grains and tools with each project. Fabrication and finishing operations are essential parts of any production cycle as they use about 10-15% of the overall labor supply and cost.
You can improve your productivity by choosing cutting grains with superior bonding, a high stock removal rate, and extended durability. Both silicon carbide abrasives and aluminum abrasives are pretty popular options for sanding wood surfaces and metal works. Both are highly competitive regarding their versatility, performance, and pricing. We shall highlight and discuss the comparative performance of both the abrasives as options for excellent results in product finishing.
What is an abrasive grain?
The abrasive grain is a type of grain that has a sharp, rough surface. It can be found in many types of materials, such as sand, stone, and even metal. The abrasive grain is used to wear away the target material when contacted under applied pressure. The most commonly used abrasive grain is sandpaper, which could be made using silicon carbide (SiC) or aluminum oxide (Al2O3). Other commonly used abrasive materials are cubic boron nitride, ceramic alumina, zirconia alumina, crocus, quartz, emery, silica sand and synthetic diamonds. These materials are utilized in manufacturing abrasives like sanding belts, flap discs, grinding wheels, flap wheels, etc.
Abrasive products in the market usually carry a label describing the material’s make-up. You can find the grain and grit on abrasives by the codes printed on them. For example, aluminum oxide abrasive with grit size 60 will carry the code “A60” on it. Prefix codes for other abrasive materials are Ceramic Alumina (C), Silicon Carbide (S). Zirconia Alumina (Z), Aluminum Oxide, and Silicon Carbide mix (AC).
Grain and grit features to look for
For an ideal outcome, the grain that constitutes the abrasive material should be sharp along with a high hardness value. When figuring out the best material suited for your specific project, you will come across different grit numbers that describe particle size. It will also clearly mention the number of small holes per inch wherein the grain passes. The number values range between No. 4 and No. 2500, implying that the grains have a size range between a few millimeters and two microns.
Choosing the right abrasive material for your work
Working with materials that are abrasive, hard, or sharp can cause damage to your target finishing product as well as the work area if not done correctly. A suitable abrasive material helps remove paint and other stains and gives the most desirable finish. Choosing the right abrasive material can help reduce the time-consuming sanding or grinding process. It also saves money and increases safety, especially during extreme temperature fluctuations. Different abrasive materials work perfectly under specific pressures and abrasion techniques. Another critical feature is that the ideal material will reduce friction and heat, leading to longer life of the abrasive and the target surface.
What are Silicon Carbide Abrasives?
Silicon carbide abrasives are characterized by their hard and sharp appearance. They are made from silicon carbide grit, a compound of silicon and carbon. The material has a high hardness and low wear resistance, which makes it suitable for cutting, grinding, polishing, or finishing surfaces. They are used in various industrial applications involving materials like stone, metal, wood, and paint. The automotive industry finds them particularly useful for finishing on rubber, glass, and plastics. Silicon carbide abrasives are also used in industrial applications like cutting through metal, grinding, polishing, and finishing surfaces. Many types of these machines are available such as rotary drum sanders, diamond wire wheels, vibratory sander grinders etc. Silicon carbide powder is another chemical compound used in the manufacture of ceramics. It helps produce high-quality products. Silicon carbide compounds are also used for abrasives and as an additive to glass and cement.
Most experienced workers prefer a combination of silicon carbide and aluminum oxide abrasives. The initial coarse sanding may start with aluminum oxide, and the final stages of the work are done using silicon carbide.
Friability in silicon carbide abrasives
They have different options depending on their friability. In abrasion, friability means the ease with which an abrasive media shatters on impact and then breaks down. It is not to be confused with the material’s hardness ratings, instead be looked at as its durability. The green silicon carbide grit is friable, while the black silicon carbide abrasive is regular. The black silicon carbide is used in grinding ceramics, non-ferrous metals, and hard non-metals.
How silicon carbide abrasive materials can boost your productivity
Silicon Carbide abrasives can reduce friction and improve the working speed of power tools by removing unwanted materials from the workpiece. It also helps prevent heat accumulation on the workpiece due to friction and wear, leading to poor performance or even permanent damage. The Silicon Carbide abrasive is a non-abrasive material used in industrial applications such as sanding, grinding, and polishing metal. The abrasive is made by pressing and compressing silicon carbide particles onto a base surface.
What are Aluminum Oxide Abrasives?
Aluminum oxide abrasives are widely used because they work well on wood, metal, and painted surfaces. Aluminum being abundantly available in nature helps lower manufacturing costs than other abrasive materials. They give an incredibly smooth finish, allowing easy cleaning of hard surfaces. Aluminum oxide abrasives are usually used to produce cement, glass, ceramics, plastics, and rubber products.
Color options in aluminum oxide abrasives
Aluminum abrasives are available in brown, white, and pink colors. Brown is the most commonly used option because it wears down relatively slower. White and pink options give a smoother finish than the brown option. White aluminum oxide is beneficial with lacquers and wood surfaces thanks to the fewer amounts of heat it produces. It is frequently used for finishing wood between paint coats. Pink aluminum oxide works wonderfully with fine, soft wood surfaces. Brown aluminum oxide is more beneficial for coarse finishing and has a longer life thanks to slow wearing. It is popularly used for sanding high-hardness materials such as drywall, fiberglass, metals, painted surfaces, and wood. It is also the most affordable option among the different colors of aluminum oxide abrasives.
Friability in aluminum oxide abrasives
Aluminum oxide abrasives are available as friable, semi-friable, regular, and heavy-duty options. The brown aluminum oxide abrasives are semi-friable as they break and re-sharpen during usage, providing more extended usage periods. White aluminum oxide has a high friability yet a similar hardness rating to brown aluminum oxides. This property uses white aluminum oxide for final polishing in rock tumbling and glass works.
How aluminum oxide abrasive materials can boost your productivity
Aluminum oxide abrasives are widely used in the automotive industry to remove paint from cars and other surfaces. They can also be used in the aerospace industry to remove paint from aircraft or scrub down aluminum parts. They can also be used in machining to remove paint or other surface contaminants.
When you use aluminum oxide abrasive belts, you will come across three options: open, closed, and flexible closed coatings. The open coatings have 60% to 65% grain coverage making them useful for processing wood and soft metals. The closed coatings have 90% to 95% grain coverage, hence beneficial for hard ferrous and non-ferrous metals. The flexible closed-coat abrasive belts find their use in concave and curve-shaped hardwood and metal surfaces. Aluminum oxide abrasives have a limitation in that they can only be used for dry operations.
What are the technical differences between silicon carbide and aluminum oxide abrasives?
Both silicon carbide and aluminum oxide abrasives are ceramic materials. Silicon carbide has harder and sharper grains, but they are less durable. They can be used for non-metallic materials. On the other hand, aluminum is more durable and can be used for high tensile strength materials. At times to get a desirable finish, both the abrasives are used in combination.
Aluminum oxide abrasives are the go-to for handling most hard and soft metals, but they do not perform well with stainless steel. You may want to switch to zirconium oxide or ceramic alumina to process stainless steel surfaces. Alumina does establish itself as a budget-friendly option when processing hard and soft metals. Also, both abrasives can be combined with lubricants to process aluminum surfaces. Choose either abrasive as you consider your project type, budget, and desired performance levels.
Henan Superior Abrasives Import & Export Co., Ltd is a leading silicon carbide manufacturer based in China. Our product portfolio includes premium abrasives, technical ceramics, and refractory materials. We have been an exporter of abrasive materials for over 20 years now. Our supply markets cover America, Canada, Mid-east, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Southeast Asia, etc.